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“Cashing in” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Colombo-Kandy Road | 90km from Colombo, Pinnawala, Sri Lanka
+94-35-2-26-52-84
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Ranked #1 of 1 things to do in Pinnawala
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Attraction details
Useful Information: Activities for older children
copenhagen
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77 reviews 77 reviews
27 attraction reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
“Cashing in”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed October 25, 2012

I visited the elephant orphanage in '99 and again this year.
What I have noticed is that this time round it was all about the money.
The orphange is great to rescue lame/orphaned elephants. What is not great is the men working there who want money if you are taking photos.
Or asking for money to feed the elephants.
The entrance fee (2000rupees) for adults is itself quite high. You walk in, see the elephants, watch two get fed and leave, this does not take so long, then you can walk down a street, lined with traders, to two restaurants at the end (slightly overpriced with not the greatest food) and watch the elephants bath in the river.
It all seems fairly forced this time round.

Visited October 2012
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Bath, England, United Kingdom
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67 reviews 67 reviews
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“Amazing!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 25, 2012

Brilliant for elephant lovers - First see them all getting fed with truck loads of leaves etc - really close up. Bottle feeding of babies was a bit of a con - I saw this 25 years ago when they did exactly that - but this time it was a couple of elephants which had to be at least 4 or 5!! They were having a great time tho and loving the fuss! The highlight is when they all traipse down to the river - just seeing them come down the street is an experience! Then they play freely in the river - beautiful backdrop too. All the babies just mess about dunking each other and making a lot of noise just like a bunch of kids!! The mahoots all try and make a few rupees on the side by getting tourists close to elephants - we didnt get involved in any of this. All in all - yo must not go to Sri Lanka and not go here ........

Visited October 2012
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Sheffield, United Kingdom
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19 reviews 19 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“Up close and amazing!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 23, 2012 via mobile

Accompanied by a tourist office driver I enjoyed a visit to the "orphanage". At 10.00 a.m. the herd proceed down the main village street to the river for their daily bath. It is worth while finding a comfortable seat in one of the riverside cafe's offering refreshments and a panoramic view and photo opportunity not to be missed. This can be followed up by going down the steps to the to rocky river bank for close up encounters!
Be sure to have some smaller notes to tip the Mahout.

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sunderland, uk
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17 reviews 17 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“elephant lovers paradise”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 20, 2012

This is one of the most popular atttractions in Sri Lanka and I can see why. If you are an animal lover/lover of elephants then you will love this.
We went with a guide which I think was helpful as he knew his way around and what time to be in certain areas for the best views.
Initially when we entered we stood and watched a large group of elephants in a huge paddock. Lots of opportunity to take photos. The local men were encouraging people to enter the paddock, but then asked for money. I must admit I did fall for this and was then roughly pushed aside as one of the "bosses" approached.
Next I was able to bottle feed one of the baby elephants (for a small fee).
Then went down to the river and watched them bathe. This was probably the nicest part. Again the men looking after the elephants were encouraging people closer and to wash the elephants, but always in exchange for some money.
Despite this, I did still enjoy it as these are majestic creatures and it is so rare to see so many at such close quarters.
After this we visited an "elephant safari" a little further down the road. This is where you get to have an elephant ride. I would not recommend this. It felt very unsafe. You were essentially riding "bare back" with very little to hang on to. I thought I was going to fall off and at one point the elephant seemed as though it was going to run. It was perhaps very naive of us to get on in the first place. They are wild animals at the end of the day and if the elephant had become upset we would have definitely ended up on the floor, probably injured. Thankfully, we got back in one piece, but best to admire from a distance I think.

Visited October 2012
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Los Angeles, California
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601 attraction reviews
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579 helpful votes 579 helpful votes
“Visited Mahavali Ganga (river) for bath & play time, not acutal Orphanage”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 17, 2012

On our Exodus tour we visited only the Mahavali Ganga (river) when the elephants come from the Orphanage down to the river for bath and play time. We didn't go to the actual orphanage. It was amazing to see the pachyderms coming down the street (two carrying pieces of wood-bath toys?) and then their enjoyment getting in the water and having fun.

The mahouts there try to keep the people away from the elephants (for our safety) but some people won't listen/obey their orders and stay behind the marked line. They all want their photos of the elephants. If you have bananas you can feed them. You can also pay the mahouts and have your photo taken next to an elephant (if you've never gotten close before). We spent about 2 hours watching the elephants enjoying their time in the river.

Visited October 2012
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